Straight people way more comfortable coming out as LGBT in workplace

There are two ways to read this poll. One is that a little less than half of straight people feel comfortable describing themselves as LGBT in the workplace, i.e. gay voice. Let’s hope that’s not how they understood the question. The other interpretation is that straight people have an idea of how safe it is to come out in their own workplaces, and it’s a lot sunnier than how their actually LGBT coworkers see it. Now is a good time to remember that online polls do not reflect broader trends. A full 27% of the respondents to this one identify as LGBT, which is about seven times the national average in the United States. That’s what you would expect from a poll about how you feel about describing yourself as gay. Gay people are more likely to click on that.

Yet a substantial number of straight people clicked on it, too—about three times as many as the LGBT respondents. Already, we see that we are sampling the opinions of a certain kind of straight person. They are not LGBT in their workplaces, but they feel like they know how it would go. Again, I guess it’s possible they didn’t read the question as a hypothetical and mean that they comfortably fake being gay at work, but one hopes a plurality of respondents aren’t doing that.

It’s likely respondents to this poll are imagining the experiences of their LGBT coworkers. More of them imagine that experience to be comfortable than report it as so. This result is similar to the result of this survey on blacks’ and whites’ views of racial discrimination. More white people say police are fair to black people. Fewer believe in blacks experience discrimination in stores and restaurants, or in that socioeconomic crucible we all know and love, the workplace. Black people and white people consistently disagree about the experience of black people by large margins.

When you put it that way, it seems obvious whom to believe. Maybe neither side is right. It’s probable that black respondents’ perception of discrimination against themselves is influenced by self-pity. That’s definitely been going on with white people. But at the risk of treating a premise like a conclusion: People who aren’t members of a particular group underestimate how much discrimination that group faces. Either that or black and LGBT people are just being babies. Somehow, that does not strike me as the likely explanation.

Friday links! Works of art edition

Banksy strikes again.

Art has the power to change lives. It can redraw the boundaries of our public discourse and stretch the horizons of our private hearts. When you study its history and see the important role it has played in human development, you realize that art has the power to do anything, except make money. Mostly, though, it has the power to suck. Back when art was two carvings a year and whatever Michelangelo put out, it had to be really good. Now that everyone is an artist and all behavior is performance, no single unit of art has to do much work. It just has to be seen. Today is Friday, and the world is producing art on a larger scale than ever before. Won’t you tactfully remark on the size of the canvas with me?

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Almost half of Republicans polled say courts should shut down “biased” news

Alex Jones fans promote his “CNN is ISIS” meme.

If one phrase captures the willful irresponsibility of the alt-right, it’s “CNN is ISIS.” Back in June, Alex Jones and his Infowars show offered $1,000 to anyone who could get that slogan onto TV, either by holding up a sign or wearing it on a shirt. It’s a nonsense statement. No one actually thinks CNN is connected to the Islamic State, or that they are even comparably bad, but saying you think so expresses an attitude. That attitude is “I’m willing to say whatever, especially if it drives libs crazy.” “CNN is ISIS” is the gleeful refrain of a lifestyle that has freed itself from truth.

As stupid as it is, though, it also captures an animosity toward the press that is real among supporters of Donald Trump. The president himself has called the media an enemy of the American people and now refers to any bad press—including leaks—as “fake news.” He encouraged crowds at his rallies to boo reporters during the campaign, and he continues to do so at various public events. But all this mindless hatred wouldn’t affect the public’s support for a free and independent press, would it? That’s just too deeply ingrained in the American system.

Enter The Economist, who found in a joint poll with YouGov that 45% of respondents who identified as Republicans approved of “permitting the courts to shut down news media outlets for publishing or broadcasting stories that are biased or inaccurate.” Seriously, look at this:

In the same poll, 71% of Republicans said they trusted Donald Trump more than the New York Times. That’s astonishing. Even if you think the Times is biased, the number of inaccuracies it prints in a year does not approach the number of falsehoods President Trump uttered in his first week. Even his supporters admonish us to take Trump seriously but not literally, which is a polite way of saying he does not speak with any regard for the truth. Calling this man more trustworthy than America’s paper of record is like saying your dog is smarter than the faculty of Yale.

Now is a good time to remember that polls don’t necessarily tell us what people think so much as what they want to think—the idea of themselves they take on, suddenly, when a pollster asks them to express their beliefs. Probably, 71% of Republicans don’t reach for the newspaper and then decide they’ll get a more reliable report from President Trump. When you ask them to choose between the two, though, they want to convey their support for him by saying Trump is better.

This phenomenon probably also accounts for the terrifying plurality of Republicans who said courts should restrict the free press. The overwhelming favorite among the general pool of respondents to that question is “haven’t heard enough to say.” It’s good they haven’t heard enough, since no one is really talking about it. I wouldn’t need much background on that one to feel confidently against it, but it’s not as though the 28% who said they favored the idea are out there trying to make it happen. It’s more likely they heard a pollster ask about it and said okay, whatever. But Christ merciful and lambent, that’s a scary question.

Gallup has Affordable Care Act at +10 approval since November

Nick Gourevitch posted this remarkable line graph on Twitter. It shows the approval rating of the Affordable Care Act over time. Note that we are not asking people about “Obamacare,” which consistently polls worse even though they are the same thing. Don’t think about that, or you will lose faith in broad surveys of public opinion. Instead, look at how unpopular the Affordable Care Act is from pretty much the beginning of Obama’s second term—right up until about six months ago, when it jumps 13 points. As the G-man points out, that’s a big swing in our present climate of hardened opinions. I wonder what could have happened six months ago to make the ACA look so much better to people? If only there were some signal event. Two explanations for this jump leap to mind.

  1. Obamacare looks better when you start trying to replace it.
  2. Democrats are actively defending Obamacare for the first time in years.

I lean toward explanation (2). I have definitely noticed a marked decrease in people yelling about how bad Obamacare is, and that supports explanation (1). Now that the onus is on Republicans to develop a replacement, they are less interested in framing current law as a crisis. You will notice that the House of Representatives did not pass 30-some proposals that would replace Obamacare. They just kept voting to repeal it, because they knew that wouldn’t happen. Now that they control both houses and the Oval Office, they must replace. They are therefore less inclined to present the Affordable Care Act as a national emergency. I think this generally reduced demonization accounts for some of the swing, but the more influential factor is Democrats going out and actively defending the law.

When the CBO says millions of Americans would lose their insurance under the Senate health’s care plan, it implies that those people got insurance thanks to the ACA. We’re hearing about those CBO scores from Democratic activists. Meanwhile, the constant viral urgings to call our representatives in Congress also serves to remind us, regularly, that Obamacare did some good. This is the marketing campaign that’s been missing for the last five years. Obamacare went from mostly disliked to mostly liked in six months, because it finally got a full-throated defense. That’s frustrating if you look at it wrong, but it’s not so hard to make it heartening.

Friday links! Courtesy of the red, white and blue edition

Toby Keith, who did not serve in the military, and his dog tags

Did you hear? President Trump dropped the MOAB on Afghanistan, killing 36 ISIS fighters and presumably ending our 15-year war. “MOAB” stands for “mother of all bombs.” The 11-ton weapon loves all other bombs and just wants them to be happy, and even though it has different expectations for each bomb, it is behind every single one of them 100 percent. You know who else loves bombs? Fox and Friends. Here’s the video they put together for yesterday’s strike:

“The video is black and white,” Ainsley Earhardt says, “but that is what freedom looks like. That’s the red, white and blue.” It’s true that a tyrant could never bomb anyone. Freedom isn’t life, liberty, or the pursuit of happiness. It’s a giant explosion seen from 30,000 feet. It’s Geraldo Rivera and his Wario mustache saying that “one of my favorite things, in the sixteen years I’ve been here at Fox News, is watching bombs drop on bad guys.” Today is Friday, and the most comfortable people in the world love to watch other people get bombed. Won’t you experience hot, searing freedom with me?

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